R.Ph. named director of UConn's Evidence-based Practice Center

December 10, 2007

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded the University of Connecticut a 5-year contract and up to $1 million per year to establish a new Evidence-based Practice Center.

The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) recently awarded the University of Connecticut a five-year contract and up to $1 million per year to establish a new Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC). The center will evaluate different drug therapies-specifically those that are common, expensive, and/or significant to the Medicare and Medicaid populations. Pharmacists have been involved in some capacity at the other EPCs throughout the country, but this is the first center to have a pharmacist as its director and three additional pharmacists on its core team. Said the center's director, C. Michael White, Pharm.D., FCP, FCCP, associate professor of pharmacy, University of Connecticut, and an expert in cardiac medicine, "Our center adds a unique perspective to the evidence-based practice center program because of the extensive pharmaceutical expertise of our core team."

The University of Connecticut EPC will be managed by the school of pharmacy in collaboration with the business school and Hartford Hospital. Key core team members include several clinicians, many of whom have worked together for almost a decade. Hartford Hospital's Jeffrey Kluger, M.D., will be the center's associate director, and Craig Coleman, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at UConn, is the center's project manager and methods chief. Robert A. Quercia, M.S., R.Ph., director of drug information services at Hartford Hospital and adjunct associate professor of pharmacy at the university, will serve as the medical editor. And John Vernon, the university's assistant finance professor, who recently completed a term at the Food & Drug Administration, will be the center's health policy chief. According to White, the vast experiences of these various individuals will benefit the EPC. "You need to have practitioners from multiple healthcare disciplines involved in deciding which questions you ask in order to provide the best, most cost-effective answers."

History of the EPC program

The EPC program has been expanded to include 14 centers in the United States and Canada. Three specialize in conducting technology assessments for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and one of the centers concentrates on supporting the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

What lies ahead?

The University of Connecticut EPC was expecting its first topic by the middle of November. According to White, while the center's core team has been given a list of potential topics to rank in order of preference, staffers will not necessarily be granted the topic(s) they wish to evaluate. Topics the new UConn center will review include common medications, exorbitant treatments, and therapies particularly significant for Medicare and Medicaid populations. Each year the center will be charged with writing about seven reports. At the end of the five-year period, UConn, if invited, can participate in the EPC for another five-year term.

EPCs in the United States and Canada

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Technology Evaluation Center
Duke University1
ECRI Institute1
Johns Hopkins University
McMaster University
Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center2
University of North Carolina
University of Southern California
Stanford University-University of California, San Francisco
Tufts-New England Medical Center1
University of Alberta
Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center
University of Ottawa
Vanderbilt University
University of Connecticut Evidence-based Practice Center

1 Focuses on technology assessments for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

2 Focuses on evidence reports for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (ref: http:// http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epc/#note1/)

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in Atlanta.